The Extravagant Chesed Love of God | Messianic Bible (2023)

“I will tell of the LORD’s unfailing love [chesed]. I will praise the LORD for all He has done. I will rejoice in His great goodness to Israel, which He has granted according to His mercy and love [chesed].” (Isaiah 63:7)

When Yeshua was asked which commandment was the greatest in the Law, He said that the first was to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The second, He said, was like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

He was reiterating two core commandments of Judaism on which the Law hangs. In Leviticus 19:18, where this law is stated, the verb translated lovein Hebrew is ahav. It is an active verb; in other words, love is an action.

Ahava, a Hebrew word for love (Photo by Talmoryair)

Interestingly enough, in order to effectively love our neighbor, we must love ourselves. If we consider ourselves undeserving, we likely will treat others that way or set ourselves up to be treated that way. So it would seem that our capacity to love our neighbor might be limited by how well we value ourselves.

If we detect that we have an ungodly view of ourselves, let’s ask God to help us see ourselves as He does. Only when we do so can we be transformed into a person who gives and receives an even higher form of love, chesed (חסד).

This other Hebrew word for love is more difficult to translate into English. Chesed is a love that cannot be sentimentalized; it has the attributes of strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion that stem from a covenant between God and man or between men.

It has been translated as loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, compassion, loyalty, goodness, great kindness, favor and loyal- or leal-love.

A Jewish man and woman exchange wedding vows under the chuppah. (Photo by Brett Lidder)

The Chesed of Adonai

“The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness [chesed].” (Psalm 145:8; see Exodus 34:6–7)

In Judaism, chesed is considered one of the thirteen attributes of God. The Jewish sages derived this idea from God’s revelation of Himself to Moses (Exodus34:6–7).

This attribute is akin to John’s description of God’s love: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8)

Chesed has been described as a “life-long love” that is based on a covenantal relationship — “a steadfast, rock-solid faithfulness that endures to eternity:”

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love [chesed] for you will not be shaken.” (Isaiah 54:10)

(Video) Extravagant CHESED Love - Psalm 23:6

Israeli couple on vacation in Israel’s Negev Desert.

Chesed is a form of love that extends beyond any sin or betrayal to heal the brokenhearted and to graciously extend forgiveness: “No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love [chesed].” (Lamentations 3:31–32)

Chesed, in fact, is God’s kind of love.

The Bible scholar John Oswalt points to chesed as it is used to describe God in the Tanakh (Exodus 34:6) as an example of “completely undeserved kindness and generosity” granted by one who is in a position of power.

He notes how God came to the Hebrew people even though they were not seeking Him and how He was true to His covenant with Abraham even though they continually broke it.

In Oswalt’s words: “Unlike humans, this deity was not fickle, undependable, self-serving, and grasping. Instead He was faithful, true, upright, and generous — always.”

A little girl carries a big Israeli flag. (Photo by Chaim Zvi)

Scripture reveals many instances of God’s chesed in action. In Genesis 24:27, Abraham’s servant managed to miraculously find a wife for Isaac. The servant recognizes God’s faithfulness and grace (a related concept in the New Covenant). He describes Him as one “who has not abandoned His kindness [chesed] and faithfulness to my master.”

The covenant aspect of chesed is witnessed in God’s steadfast love toward Israel. Although Israel is not always faithful, God is. He will not let Israel go.

One cannot live in Israel without being aware of God’s chesed, and it is this chesed that preserves a nation whose enemies outnumber it by a ratio of 250 to 1.

While many men and women have witnessed God’s miraculous interventions in battle, simply getting through each day is proof enough of His chesed in a country that is constantly under attack. Because of that, many so-called hilonim or secular Jewish citizens are also aware of God’s existence and of His grace and loving-kindness overIsrael.

Orthodox Israeli man (Israel Ministry of Tourism Photo by Noam Chen)

(Video) Chesed Is Reserved for God’s Family

God’s love for the Jewish People is a true wonder.

Chesed does not dismiss the need for holiness and righteousness but, mercifully, despite failings on the part of the Jewish People, makes a way through unmerited kindness toward love for His covenant.

In fact, chesed is quite often paired with the Hebrew word translated mercy and compassion: rachum. (see Isaiah 54:8; 63:7; Lamentations 3:22)

“And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness [chesed] and with mercy [rachum]. And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19–20 [21–22])

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my loving-kindness [chesed] will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the LORD who has compassion [rachum] on you.” (Isaiah54:10)

The Extravagance of Chesed

“For Your loving-kindness [chesed] is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.” (Psalm 26:3)

The Hebrew word chesed also appears in Leviticus 20:17 where the Law states that a man who uncovers the nakedness of his sister has committed a chesed: here it is translated as a disgrace.

In writing “chesed,” it suggests that the man has crossed a Divine line, giving chesed the added sense of being “characterized by overflowing and lack of boundaries.” (Aish)

In this case, chesed is given a negative connotation. But when holiness is the connotation, the intent is that the one who loves does so without boundaries — an act of love characterized by overflowing grace, mercy and giving.

With this kind of love there is no thought of “what’s in it for me?”

Naomi Entreating Ruth and Orpah, by William Blake

Ruth 1:8–20 gives us an example of chesed. When Naomi decided to return to Israel after her husband and sons died, her daughters-in-law were faced with a decision: go back to Moab or go to Israel.

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“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness [chesed] to your dead husbands and to me.’” (Ruth 1:8)

Orpah went back to Moab, but Ruth went with Naomi and gleaned in the fields of Israel to look after her. This was more than just kindness. She demonstrated chesed, a loyal love that goes beyond the requirement of familial duty.

While in Israel, Ruth did not go after young men but married Boaz as a way to help her mother-in-law.

We see here that chesed goes beyond the call of duty, beyond compliance with contracts. It is extravagant.

It is not dependent upon feelings or mood; it is something that we do to provide for what another person needs. It is motivated by compassion and ahava (love).

“‘The LORD bless you, my daughter,’ he replied. ‘ This kindness [chesed] is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.'” (Ruth 3:10)

Ruth and Boaz, by Moeyaert

The Mitzvah of Gemilut Chassadim

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy [chesed] endures for ever.” (Psalm 136:1)

Jewish tradition teaches that to be a chasid (pious one), we must acquire the attribute of chesed (chasid comes from the word chesed). More simply put, chesed should characterize the lives of those who know God.

Chesed is a core pillar of human behavior; as Pirkei Avot 1:2 states, the world rests upon three things: Torah, avodat (divine service: i.e. sacrifices, prayer), and Gemilut Chassadim (giving of chesed).

Gemilut Chassadim is the performance of acts of loving-kindness.

Although performance of the mitzvah (command) of tzedakah is usually the giving of money to the poor, Gemilut Chassadim is the performance of loving-kindness (usually personal service) for anyone. This concept is very broad and includes all relationships between people. (Chabad)

The following are examples of the personal obligations covered by this term:

  • grant free loans (of money or any other object);
  • provide hospitality;
  • visit and comfort the sick;
  • give clothing to those in need thereof;
  • assist and gladden brides and grooms;
  • attend to matters of the dead;
  • comfort mourners;
  • reconcile those who are at odds with each other.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a wounded Israeli soldier.

In performing these chassadim (plural of chesed), the rabbis say we are emulating God on earth. Though none of these acts are specifically commanded in the Torah, the rabbis point to certain Scriptures that suggest God desires these actions:

“As God clothes the naked [Genesis 3:21]… as God visits the sick [Genesis 18:1]… as God comforts mourners [Genesis 25:11]… as God attends the dead [Deuteronomy 34:6]… as God attends brides and grooms… so you are to do also.” (Sotah 14a; Sifre, c; Midrash Tehilim 25:10; Kohelet Rabba 7:6f; Pirke deR. Eliezer 12 and 16f; Avot deR. Nathan ch.4; Hilkhot Avel 14:1)

An IDF soldier gives tzedakah to an elderly man in Israel.

While tzedakah (charity) refers to fulfillment of the most basic obligation or commandments, chesed speaks of a voluntary excess of giving.

Chesed is an overflow of beneficence toward someone who has no rights at all to claim it from us, as well as an overflow of beneficence toward someone who deserves it but in a greater measure than he deserves. (Chabad)

Performing chesed is no small thing. It can have a powerful redemptive effect on those who feel no worth of their own, those who are often shunned and shamed by their community.

“Through acts of chesed (supported by tzedakah) where you treat someone like a human being, b’tselem elohim (in the image of God), with the respect they deserve, that person can be restored to the community. He or she can overcome the stigma of poverty, frailty, disease, or loneliness and can themselves become engaged, empowered actors of chesed.” (My Jewish Learning)

An elderly man begs for coins in Jerusalem.

We see this principle of chesed effectively at work in many Bible-based recovery programs where even momentary sobriety is celebrated by lavish acts of grace and kindness that are only possible when one sees the value that God has placed in another

And we see this principle of chesed at work in the redemption of our sins through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) who lavishly gave up His own life to become the perfect sacrifice so that we can be restored back to God as heirs, sons and daughters, of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)

May each of us strive to know God’s chesed toward us, to value ourselves as He values us so we can freely share His chesed with others. When we perform chesed, we trigger an awareness of God’s chesed, which has the power to change someone’s life for the better.

“I desired chesed and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

(Video) Chesed Class 3

FAQs

What is the meaning of chesed in the Bible? ›

Chesed (Hebrew: חֶסֶד, also Romanized: Ḥeseḏ) is a Hebrew word that means 'kindness or love between people', specifically of the devotional piety of people towards God as well as of love or mercy of God towards humanity.

What is the meaning of Hesed God's unconditional love for us? ›

Hesed refers to the steadfast, unfailing love of God towards man. Appearing 246 times in the Old Testament, this love is best used in describing God's loyal commitment to us. Such love is manifested in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world.

Where is the word Hesed used in the Bible? ›

HESED IN THE PSALMS (SEE ALSO 85:10; 86:5; 89; 136; 103; 106; 107) (Ps 23:6): “Surely goodness and hesed shall follow me all the days of my life.” [Expressed in God's provision.] (Ps 36:7-9): “How precious is your hesed, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

What is Hebrew word for love? ›

The Hebrew verb אהב (ahav, pronounced ah-HAV, with the final bet pronounced as a "v") is a Biblical Hebrew word meaning "to love." The noun form of this word is אהבה (ahavah, pronounced ah-ha-VAH) meaning "love." Ahav and ahavah cover a broad spectrum of concepts of love.

What does hesed mean in the book of Ruth? ›

This is the first occurrence in Ruth of the Hebrew word, hesed. There is not a parallel word in English, though it is often translated with the compound word, "lovingkindness." Hesed is a term God uses for his covenant people, melding together love and mercy, grace and goodness, loyalty and devotion.

Is mercy a form of love? ›

For the Christians, mercy is not limited to members of one's own community, but includes others, regardless of race, social class or even religion. It is a form of love which is not wasted in temporary and sentimental effusions, but actualised in concrete deeds, with the ultimate example supplied by Christ.

What does unconditional love mean spiritually? ›

Unconditional love essentially means loving someone or something without any conditions. In other words, no matter what another person says, does, feels, thinks or believes in, we still love them unconditionally. Unconditional love can also be applied to other beings such as animals and even emotions and thoughts.

How do we love God unconditionally? ›

However, God's love is often described as unconditional because humans, deep in their hearts, long to be loved and accepted without conditions or reservations. Such love and acceptance can only be given by a self-sufficient being like the deity.

What does Gaal mean in Hebrew? ›

Definition. to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman. (Qal)

What is the Hebrew word for loyal love? ›

In part one (0:00–16:10), Tim, Jon, and Carissa explore the fourth attribute God assigns himself in Exodus 34:6-7: loyal love. This phrase is a translation of the Hebrew word khesed. Khesed is a challenging word to translate because it combines the ideas of love, generosity, and enduring commitment.

Is agape and Hesed the same? ›

Hesed is based on obedience, but agape is founded in unmerited grace. Agape love, unconditional, self-sacrificial love, is the standard of love Jesus commanded us to express in the human family when He said: This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. Endnotes: 1.

What is God's love called? ›

agape, Greek agapē, in the New Testament, the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God. In Scripture, the transcendent agape love is the highest form of love and is contrasted with eros, or erotic love, and philia, or brotherly love.

What are the 4 types of love in the Bible? ›

Did you know that there are four types of love found in the Bible? Over the years, scholars have broken down the text of the Bible and divided each example of love into one of our categories: Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape. These four words are Greek for different kinds of love.

Where is hesed used in the book of Ruth? ›

In the story of Ruth, the key characters demonstrate hesed. Ruth showed unwavering covenant loyalty and love to Naomi by remaining with her mother-in-law when she returned to Bethlehem and by seeking to marry Boaz in order to carry on the line of Elimelech, Naomi's dead husband (Ruth 1; 3).

How many times is hesed used in Ruth? ›

Hesed is a power word in the Bible and the most important word in the book of Ruth. It shows up three times, but the concept runs through the whole story and ultimately drives the action. Naomi says it first when she attempts to part from her daughters-in-law. ?

How did God display love in the book of Ruth? ›

Ruth's sacrifice and hard work to provide for Naomi reflected God's love. Boaz's loyalty to his kinsman, Naomi's husband, reflected God's faithfulness. Naomi's plan for Ruth's future reflected selfless love. The book of Ruth showed the Israelites the blessings that obedience could bring.

What are the two types of mercy? ›

The works of mercy have been traditionally divided into two categories, each with seven elements: "Corporal works of mercy" which concern the material and physical needs of others. "Spiritual works of mercy" which concern the spiritual needs of others.

What are the 3 works of mercy? ›

The Corporal Works of Mercy are: Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked.

How do we activate God's mercy? ›

Once you give your life to JESUS the Messiah – Who also is the MERCY of God INCARNATED in the flesh, you become qualified to enjoy God's Supernatural Mercy.

What are the characteristics of God's love? ›

10 Attributes of God's Love
  • God's love is gentle. ...
  • God's love is faithful and merciful. ...
  • God's love is compassionate. ...
  • God's love is unfathomable. ...
  • God's love is forgiving and full of grace. ...
  • God's love is always with us, even in our pain and suffering. ...
  • God's love is eternal. ...
  • God's love is protective.
15 Aug 2022

How do I receive God's perfect love? ›

How to Receive God's Love
  1. Pay prayerful attention to the reality of God's love. ...
  2. Let other people love you. ...
  3. If you are a churchgoer, take the Eucharist. ...
  4. Look for God's love all around you. ...
  5. Practice loving other people.
4 Mar 2020

How do you explain God's love? ›

God's Love Is Unconditional

The Bible states that God loved us while we were still sinners; His love abounds from His infinite goodness and mercy. God's love is steadfast and unchanging. Though we may grow distant from Him or fickle in our attitude toward Him, He continues to love us.

What is God's perfect love? ›

Perfect love is an expression of God's love for us, and it is only complete (or perfect) when we reflect it back onto Him. We can know no greater love than the love God has for us. By receiving that love, He offers us the power to give it — to become the perfect expression of it and bask in the gratitude of His love.

What 3 things are loved unconditionally? ›

A man is only loved under the condition that he provides something." Chris Rock - )

What is the power of God's love? ›

When filled with God's love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us.

What is the Hebrew name for happiness? ›

Simcha (Hebrew: שִׂמְחָה śimḥāʰ; Hebrew pronunciation: [simˈχa], Yiddish pronunciation: [ˈsɪmχə]) is a Hebrew word that means gladness, or joy, and is often used as a given name.

What are the Greek words for love in the Bible? ›

AGAPE – GREEK WORD FOR LOVE

Like its synonym philia, it designates love between persons (John 13:35), or people for God (1 John 2:15), of God for humanity (Rom.

When was the word love first used in the Bible? ›

It is interesting to note that the first time the word “love” is used in the Bible is in Genesis 22:2 – “Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

What is Yasha in Hebrew? ›

This is very close to Yasha, which means Saviour in Hebrew. Here for the very first time is a literal translation of the scriptures with the sacred name of Ahayah and Yasha, restored and preserved.

What does Achi mean in Hebrew? ›

Achi/ Achoti – My bro, my dude, my brother. The female equivalent is achoti, which means my girl or my sister. Achla / Magniv – Both mean cool. Achla also means good – so if someone asks how you are, you can say Achla.

Who is Gael in the Bible? ›

Gaal (Hebrew:גַּעַל) was a minor 12th century BCE biblical character, introduced in the 9th chapter of Judges in the Hebrew Bible as the son of Ebed or Eved, or the son of a slave. His story is told in Judges 9:26–41.

What is Jesus love called? ›

Agape love perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers.

What is the difference between love and loyal love? ›

Loyalty defines a character. Love is merely a choice one makes.

What is the purest form of love agape? ›

Agape love, which is most often crowned as the highest form of Christian love, is the kind of love and action that shows empathy; extends the desire for good of the beloved; wants the best; extends help or demonstrates good intentions; and is intended for everyone. Agape love is sacrificial.

What are the 3 types of love agape? ›

They are described in Greek -Eros (romantic love), Philia (brotherly love), and Agape (God's divine love or unconditional love).

How is the love of God defined in the Bible? ›

God's relentless, loyal love arrives in Jesus, and his affection for us drives him to give us the ultimate act of loyal love in his life, death, and resurrection. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his khesed endures forever. Psalm 118:1.

What are the 3 C's in love? ›

A strong and healthy relationship is built on the three C's: Communication, Compromise and Commitment.

What are the two forms of divine love? ›

In the former model, divine love is a unilateral, unmotivated, willed benevolence, while in the latter model divine love is essentially relational, emotional, and primarily passive.

Is chesed left or right? ›

Chesed is associated with God's right arm and is the brother of Gevurah, the left arm, who represents judgment.

What are the 4 types of mercy? ›

4 Types of Mercy
  • Advocacy.
  • Assistance.
  • Finances.
  • Spiritual.
15 Sept 2011

How do you use chesed in a sentence? ›

Example Sentences
  1. You should go visit her in the hosiptal. It would be a real chesed.
  2. "The chesed we strive to promote in our students is rooted in a sense of responsibility to serve the Jewish people and all of humanity -- leading with kindness to improve the world!" ( source)

What is the Hebrew name for mercy? ›

Chesed,” the word translated as “mercy” in this verse, additionally suggests God's quality of “steadfast loyalty.” The psalm thus relates steadfastness and mercy with “truth” – in Hebrew “emet”– which means behaving ethically and being faithful to God's will.

What does Hod mean in Hebrew? ›

Hod (Hebrew הוֹד Hōḏ, lit. 'majesty, splendour, glory') is the eighth sephira of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Hod sits below Gevurah and across from Netzach in the tree of life; Yesod is to the south-east of Hod. It has four paths, which lead to Gevurah, Tiphereth, Netzach, and Yesod.

What does geburah mean in Hebrew? ›

Gevurah or Geburah (Hebrew: גְּבוּרָה, romanized: Gəvūrā, Tiberian: Găḇūrā, lit. 'strength'), is the fifth sephirah in the kabbalistic tree of life, and it is the second of the emotive attributes of the sephirot. It sits below Binah, across from Chesed and above Hod.

What does Tiferet mean in Hebrew? ›

Tiferet can be also a variation of the word "Tifarah" and in Modern Hebrew used in Israel is translated as "Glory" (from God – "Elohim, Adonay).

What are the 7 spiritual acts of mercy? ›

These include feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, giving shelter to travelers, and offering drink to the thirsty. Caravaggio compresses all seven acts into one composition.

What are the 4 promises of divine mercy? ›

Place our complete trust in Jesus. Receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast (or its Vigil). Venerate the Image of The Divine Mercy. Be merciful to others, through our actions, words, and prayers on their behalf.

What is God's ultimate act of mercy? ›

What is the biblical definition of mercy? Mercy appears in the Bible as it relates to forgiveness or withholding punishment. For example, God the Father showed mercy on us when he sacrificed his son, Christ Jesus, on the Cross to pay the price for our sins.

Is mercy the same as loving-kindness? ›

Here the translators use the word mercy. Often it is translated as loving-kindness which is a word created by Miles Coverdale in his 1535 translation of the Bible as an attempt to translate the fullness of hesed. For this indescribable word the term steadfast love is used frequently as well.

What kind of sentence is May God have mercy? ›

The sentence which expresses a prayer, keen wish, curse etc. is called an optative sentence.

What name means sent by God? ›

When looking for a name for a baby, some parents like to opt for names that mean a gift from God and with good reason. After all, babies are truly a gift – a blessing from God.
...
Names for Boys.
NameMeaning
HananA gracious gift of God
HansGift of God
HibahA gift from God
HanzalThe name means Gift from God
81 more rows

What happens when mercy speaks? ›

When mercy of God speaks in the life of sinners, his iniquities can be replaced with a garment of Christ righteousness, which can enable him to obtain unmerited favor. Answerd prayers and grant him access to liberation and breakthroughs of life.

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